Up for the challenge

Rhythmafia: a new breed of mashup
By CHRIS CONTI  |  August 25, 2009

mafia main

'NO STYLE IS SAFE' Rhythmafia get ready to shake some action.  

Rhythmafia have been on the scene for about four years, and in that relatively short time the Providence natives — Rob Cinami (drums and backup vox), Jamie Kearns (guitar), Zack Chagnon (bass), and frontman Sam Montes — have successfully delivered a blatantly unique sound through the course of three albums, most recently on Crime Family, a collection of demos, live takes, and B-sides from their first two studio albums, 2007's Mob and their '06 debut Bass, Beats and Brass. Crime Family and a new live/behind-the-scenes DVD, The Fusion Experience, will be available starting this weekend (and at MySpace.com/Rhythmafia) at a face-melting lineup in Foster as part of the RIMC Field Day (MySpace.com/rimusic coalition), an all-ages, all-day affair with 20 bands on two stages starting at noon (yes, with a cash bar on premises). Wolves of Wysteria, Scare Don't Fear, A Faylene Sky, and Best Music Poll Loud Act victors Acerose are just a few bands set to invade Foster.

Ask any band collective what they listen to and invariably you'll get "a li'l bit of everything," but Rhythmafia revels in taking "mashup" to new, if not challenging, levels. "No style of music is safe," reads their credo, and they ain't kidding. Crime Family cuts such as "Rue" and "Grey Suit and a Black Tie" (billed as "hardrock reggae") zip from Latin percussion to bowel-draining death growls without warning. A jazz break here, stoner-rock riffage there — you name it. Their obsession with the mob is prevalent from the start on "The Godfather Intro," and Cinami deftly hammers his kit on the rumbling finale "The Blizzard of 1978," one of a few instrumentals on Crime Family.

"We all have diverse tastes in music, everything from Morbid Angel to Mars Volta to Miles Davis," said Rhythmafia capo Rob Cinami. "We purposely try to not repeat ourselves by not wearing any one influence on our sleeve. Each member brings their own flavor to the table."

Intentionally crafting a holy-shit hybrid of sound or just bored with traditional rock blueprints, Rhythmafia are staying the course, serving up more "WTF?" turns in one song than pretty much any other band I've ever heard. It may not translate to the casual listener, but Rhythmafia have earned the respect of their widespread peers, having opened for Cannibal Corpse, Murphy's Law, Sasquatch & the Sick-a-Billys, and rapper Chachi.

"Our goal is to master the art of experimentation while staying creative and unique," Cinami said earlier this week while promoting the Field Day fest. "No style is safe and every song is different, whether it be a death metal song or a reggae jam. Kind of like Mr. Bungle with an East Coast attitude."

Rhythmafia recently wrapped up their multi-media/multi-genre "American Stimulus" tour with Staten Island rhymer Scott James, who contacted the band's manager and childhood friend Vile Mike from Vile Productions (who will release the next Rhythmafia album, set for early '10) and has become a valuable ally to the Provy foursome. James and his SI crew tour the area regularly and will accompany Rhythmafia to Cats. James has also hosted Rhythmafia on his home turf on numerous occasions. "Martini Red in Staten Island is a great venue," Cinami recalled. "The Wu-Tang Clan played there when they were starting out and the locals seem to have an open mind to music." Rhythmafia have shows booked across Rhode Island and Worcester through October, as well as a Halloween throwdown scheduled with James in Staten Island.

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